Grain Free and Low Carb Pet Foods

As grain free foods gain in popularity, the question arises. . . why? Are these foods better than formulas containing grains, or just different? And does grain free also mean low carbohydrate?

As with any food, the quality of the ingredients will be integral in the answer. A low quality grain free food will obviously be inferior to a high quality formulation which includes grain. Just because a formula is grain free, does not mean it is low in carbs.

If you are trying to cut down on the carbohydrates for your dog's diet, check the guaranteed analysis panel. Some foods are now including that information. If it is not there, it's simple to figure it out for yourself. Simply add up the total percentages of protein, fat, moisture, crude fiber and ash. Then subtract that number from 100. This will give you an approximate percentage of carbohydrates in your food.

Remember- just because of food is grain free does not mean it is low carb. According to Sean Delaney, Chief Scientific, Medical and Nutrition Officer at Natural Pet Products, "dry foods with less than 18% carbohydrate for dogs and 12% for cats would be considered low in carbohydrate. Canned dog and cat foods with less than 2% carbs would be considered lower in carbohydrates."

Grain free foods, just like lamb based foods many years ago, were originally developed to address allergies. They are not necessarily better than other formulations, just different. Non-grain carbohydrate sources in a food (like vegetables and fruits) can contribute to a high carb level in a food.

Be sure you know what, and why, you are looking for in a formulation before being swayed by marketing claims.


Craig Weindling

Reprinted with permission

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